OVERVIEW: Formerly a republic of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan is one of the wealthiest Central Asian nations because of its mineral resources. Islam has experienced a revival since the fall of the Soviet Union, with many returning to what they consider the religion of their parents. Today Kazakhstan emulates its European neighbors, undertaking massive construction projects, enjoying a growing financial sector and adopting the Latin alphabet used by the Western world.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: The major religion in Kazakhstan is Islam, and there are also many atheists.
PERSECUTOR: Christians are persecuted by the government and their communities, but government persecution is inconsistent.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN KAZAKHSTAN: Some churches worship openly, but they are closely watched. Kazakhs are used to Russian Orthodox Christians, but they are suspicious of those who hold services in the Kazakh native tongue. All religious activities must be registered with the government. Believers are commonly fined for distributing religious texts, discussing religion or holding worship meetings. Christian children are mocked at school. The families of Christian converts often beat them or otherwise publicly humiliate them. Unregistered churches must meet in private homes. The average age of those attending unregistered churches is 70 years old. Many younger Kazakh believers left the country in the first decade of the 21st century. In recent years, three Kazakh believers have been imprisoned on false charges. All three have been released.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles are available, but they are unobtainable for many. Large churches often sell them. Rural believers must travel to big cities to obtain a Bible.
VOM WORK: VOM provides Bibles and supports front-line workers in the most difficult regions.